Fair Trade USA and PUR Projet tackle deforestation in Côte d’Ivoire cocoa supply chain

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09 Mar 2018 --- Fair Trade USA, the leading certifier of Fair Trade products in North America, and PUR Projet, a social business working with companies to regenerate ecosystems, have joined forces to develop community-driven agroforestry projects within Fair Trade supply chains in Côte d’Ivoire.

The West African country produces around 39 percent of the world’s cocoa and has lost about 85 percent of its forest since the 1960s largely due to agricultural expansion.

The Ivorian economy is largely market-based and still relies heavily on agriculture, with smallholder cash crop production being dominant.

Fair Trade USA, formerly “TransFair USA,” is a non-profit organization, that sets standards, certifies, and labels products that promote sustainable livelihoods for farmers and workers and protect the environment.

Through the partnership program, cocoa producers will be trained and monitored, so they are better equipped to revitalize and protect their land in a bid to reduce the chances of farming in protected forests.

Producers will also learn about key infrastructure, capacity to implement agroforestry projects, as well as income diversification so that farmers can increase their income and escape a cycle of dependency on cocoa yield.

“The partnership provides the opportunity to leverage Fair Trade USA’s extensive experience in empowering and building institutional capacity with local cocoa-producing communities in the region while integrating PUR Projet's model for community-based ecosystem restoration and conservation,”  says Andrew Nobrega, Director North America/UK at PUR Projet.

As with other well-known Fair Trade Certified products like coffee and tea, Fair Trade Certified cocoa products must adhere to rigorous, independently audited standards for sourcing and trading.

These standards help to protect fundamental human rights, prevent forced and child labor, establish safe working conditions, and enable responsible natural resource management. This is especially important in an industry with a history of deforestation.

“PUR Projet’s model of community-led agroforestry is a wonderful complement to the Fair Trade program,” said Ken Redding, Chief Commercial Officer at Fair Trade USA.

For food companies, cocoa supply chains are among the riskiest, wrought with labor and environmental challenges like deforestation.

As consumers continue to vote with their wallets for sustainably sourced chocolate, more and more brands are turning to Fair Trade certification.

Fair Trade USA currently certifies more than 11,500 products with challenging ingredient supply chains.

Last September, UK national newspaper, The Guardian, wrote an expose about what it described as “dirty cocoa” getting into the supply chain, following an investigation which involved the news organization visiting the Ivory Coast.

The article – entitled “Chocolate industry drives rainforest disaster in Ivory Coast” claimed the world’s chocolate industry is “driving deforestation on a devastating scale in West Africa.” And that “illegal product” is mixed in with “clean” beans in the supply chain, making the point that it’s extremely difficult to know what products “dirty cocoa” may end up in, which poses the question: how does the industry make sure that illegal or “dirty” cocoa beans do not end up in the world’s most popular and well-loved chocolate brands?

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